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I plan to operate an ultralight aircraft domestically (in Oregon, USA) in uncontrolled airspace and will not venture out of the country nor will I come near the Canadian or Mexican borders.

I have searched a bit and found that as long as I'm going to be operating domestically, I don't need an FCC license, however in AC 103-6 it states

c. Traffic Advisory Practices at Uncontrolled Airports.

In all radio communications, ultralight operators should state the word "ultralight" followed by the call letters assigned by the F.C.C. on your radio license, i.e., "Ultralight 12593U".

How can I use FCC call-letters if a license is not required domestically? Since ultralights aren't required to be registered, I won't have a tail number to use either. Do I just make something up like "ultralight whisky bravo" (my initials)? I do have an amateur radio license, but I'm guessing that isn't relevant here.

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  • $\begingroup$ The "call-letters" are the FAA registration numbers for your aircraft, not your license. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Feb 13 '17 at 18:10
  • $\begingroup$ @RonBeyer Thanks for that. I understand that either FCC call-letters or the tail number can be used, but since ultralights aren't required to be registered, it still leaves me wondering what to use in my situation. $\endgroup$ – Will B Feb 13 '17 at 18:13
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    $\begingroup$ One of the suggested communication strategies for uncontrolled airports is to announce the type of aircraft and color. e.g. “Brown and white Cherokee entering downwind”. Rather than using your initials, which like the tail number, don‘t really give any information, why not use your color or some distinguishing feature. e.g “Red tricycle ultralight” or “Blue weight-shift ultralight”. Anyone out there would have a better chance of knowing what to look for and seeing and avoiding you. $\endgroup$ – JScarry Feb 13 '17 at 18:29
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    $\begingroup$ Not living in the US, but could the FCC license be related to the radio instead of the aircraft? If you have the right to transmit in the aviation band, it's surely because you have a radio license and a call sign...? $\endgroup$ – mins Feb 13 '17 at 18:37
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    $\begingroup$ There are two types of FCC radio licenses pilots need to know about. One if for the operator (pilot), I have one from the 80s when they were required of all pilots. The other is for the radio station (aircraft). They are required for flights outside the country, but the rules are not enforced for Canada and Mexico. I don’t know about elsewhere. $\endgroup$ – JScarry Feb 13 '17 at 18:47
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One of the suggested communication strategies for uncontrolled airports is to announce the type of aircraft and color. e.g. “Brown and white Cherokee entering downwind”.

Rather than using your initials, which like the tail number, don‘t really give any information, why not use your color or some distinguishing feature. e.g “Red tricycle ultralight” or “Blue weight-shift ultralight”.

Anyone out there would have a better chance of knowing what to look for and seeing and avoiding you.

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I fly a Part 103 Ultralight. I simply use "Ultralight" when announcing my position and intentions. If there are any other ultralights in the area, I will add the color for a more descriptive designator "Blue and White Ultralight". Also, if I am flying in a close group of other ultralights (50-100 yards apart or so), Only one of us will simply announce, for example "John Day Traffic, Flight of 3 Ultralights is turning left downwind, Runway 26, John Day". We sometimes land all at once, within seconds of each other (sometimes all of us on final at the same time), to keep from causing too much of a congestive situation at airports where there is a busy fly-in. For example, if there are 4 of us arriving at an airport, it is much more expeditious for us to group together on downwind, then turn one at a time on base seconds from each other, then final with maybe 1/8 mile spacing max (an ultralight wing makes hardly a ripple in the air, so turbulence from wing vortexes is not much of a factor at all 50 yards back), rather than have a bunch of slow moving ultralights hogging the whole pattern for the entire 10 to 15 minutes it would take for all of us to enter and stay in a typical 45 degree entry pattern with "normal" GA spacing. This way, any GA pilots in the area or pattern will simply have to look for a cluster of 4 slow moving aircraft grouped closely together to spot all of us at once.

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